What Causes Itchy Testicles and How to Stop It

Medically Reviewed By Meredith Goodwin, MD, FAAFP
Was this helpful?
10

Causes of itchy testicles can include jock itch, dermatitis, herpes, and gonorrhea. Treatment of itchy testicles depends on the cause. This article explores the various potential causes, which include intertrigo, gonorrhea, and chafing. The article also details how to identify it, its triggers, and possible treatments.

Sex and gender exist on a spectrum. This article uses the terms “female” and “male” or both to refer to the sex assigned at birth. 

Learn more about the difference between sex and gender.

Jock itch and fungal infection

a man is relaxing at the beach wearing swim shorts
Jimena Roquero/Stocksy United

Jock itch is a common cause of itchy testicles. It is a fungal infection in damp areas of the body, such as between the genitals and thighs.

According to a 2022 study, jock itch is usually a discolored rash, but its color and symptoms can vary depending on the fungus and the color of the underlying skin.

Some yeast infections can be dry and flakey. Others can be moist and itchy.

Treatments include topical and oral medications. Topical examples include allylamines such as terbinafine and azoles such as clotrimazole. Oral preparations include terbinafine and itraconazole.

Learn when to see a doctor for jock itch.

Intertrigo

Intertrigo is an inflammation of the skin folds, especially in warm areas. Moisture, bacteria, and fungus can affect the folds, creating bright red patches. Warm climates can also be a factor.

According to the National Library of Medicine (NLM), the treatment for intertrigo depends on the underlying cause. For example, an antimicrobial medication can be used in case of an infection. 

To stay cool and reduce warm temperatures in the folds, options include loose clothing, staying in rooms with air conditioning, and applying a paste of aluminum acetate, zinc oxide, and petrolatum.

Oral treatments include fluconazole.

Learn more about what to do for intertrigo.

Chafing

Chafing is irritation of the skin. It’s usually a result of rubbing against skin or clothing. An example of chafing is runners’ thighs. During running, especially in hot weather, the thighs rub together, causing friction, and leading to chafing.

Eliminating the constant friction can resolve chafing. Also, applying petroleum jelly, such as Vaseline, on the skin, wearing dry loose clothing, and avoiding activities that cause chafing can help.

Learn what causes chafing and how to prevent it.

Contact dermatitis

Contact dermatitis is inflammation of the skin that may lead to rashes, hives, and other lesions. There are two types: irritant and allergic contact dermatitis.

Contact dermatitis occurs when a chemical irritates the skin or modifies proteins in the skin, resulting in an immune response.

There are many forms of contact dermatitis, and treatment may depend on the type, area, and severity. In genital areas, treatments include antihistamines.

People with contact dermatitis should avoid soaps, perfumes, dyes, essential oils, and friction.

Learn more about what to do for contact dermatitis.

Crabs or pubic lice

Crabs or pubic lice cause tiny itchy bites. Lice can be found anywhere there is hair.

Lice can also be spread from one person to another during sexual activity.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states treatments include over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription medications. These include topical ivermectin.

Learn the seven most common STIs.

Genital warts

Genital warts are a sexually transmitted infection (STI) resulting from human papillomavirus (HPV). The NLM states that skin-to-skin contact during sexual activity can spread the STI from one person to another.

Genital warts are identifiable by size, usually around 5 millimeters or less, and skin-like or darker color. They can cause redness, itchiness, and discomfort. They may also bleed and can be painless.

There is currently no cure for the underlying HPV. However, treatments for genital warts include topical solutions, such as podophyllotoxin and isotretinoin, and surgical removal.

Cryotherapy, which is liquid nitrogen freezing, is another treatment option.

Learn how to talk with your doctor about genital warts.

Herpes

There are two types of herpes: genital and oral. The CDC says oral herpes can also lead to the genital type during sexual activity.

Herpes can spread when there is contact with open sores, saliva, genital fluids, and skin in the oral or genital area of a partner with herpes.

It is identifiable from the sores and painful blisters that usually take a week or more to heal. 

There is no cure for herpes, but medications can reduce the outbreaks. Treatments for genital herpes include acyclovir, valacyclovir, and famciclovir.

Learn how to recognize herpes.

Trich

Trichomoniasis (trich) is an STI that usually has no symptoms. According to the CDC, those who do experience symptoms may feel mild irritation to severe inflammation 5–28 days after infection. Symptoms could take longer to appear.

Symptoms include a burning sensation after urinating or ejaculation and itching or irritation inside the penis.

Diagnosis of trich requires a physical examination. It is curable with an oral medication that is also safe during pregnancy.

Treatment regimens for males include metronidazole and tinidazole.

Learn some complications of trich.

Gonorrhea

Gonorrhea is a common STI that can cause an infection in the genitals, rectum, and throat. It spreads during sexual activity.

Males with gonorrhea may experience symptoms that include

  • a burning sensation while urinating
  • a green, yellow, or white discharge from the penis
  • pain or swelling of the testicles

According to the CDC, treatment options include a single dose of intramuscular ceftriaxone, an antibiotic injection.

Learn more about gonorrhea.

Scabies

Scabies is an infestation of the human itch mite, which can cause intense itching and a rash that resembles pimples. It spreads via skin-to-skin contact.

These mites can also appear on the penis and buttocks, resulting in genital itching.

To treat scabies, you will need a prescription for a medication in the scabicides category.

Learn more about recovering from scabies.

Itchy testicles at night

Itchy testicles at night may result from one of the above causes.

It can also be a result of eczema. According to the National Eczema Society, genital eczema can be very itchy and lead to scratching. Scratching can trigger even more itching.

Patch testing can be helpful to understand if the issue is true eczema, an iron deficiency, or contact dermatitis. 

Treatment options include antihistamines and anti-itch emollients.

Prevention

Prevention can depend on the actual cause of testicle itching. In general, you may want to consider:

  • avoiding fragrance, essential oils, and harsh soaps
  • moisturizing with products that contain petrolatum
  • wearing dry loose clothing, especially around the genitals
  • using protection when engaging in sexual activity
  • taking STI tests with partners before engaging in sexual activity without a condom or other barrier method

When to see a doctor

Itchy testicles can be a result of many causes. See a doctor as soon as you experience the condition.

They can help identify the cause or refer you to a specialist, such as a dermatologist or a urologist.

They can also prescribe medications or recommend OTC products to help relieve symptoms or cure the condition.

General treatment

To treat itchy testicles, a doctor will need to diagnose a cause. Treatment may involve applying topical creams or ointments, wearing loose clothing, taking prescription medication, or receiving injections.

Summary

Itchy testicles can be very uncomfortable and have various causes, including jock itch, contact dermatitis, and chafing. Some STIs can also cause itchiness in the genital area.

A doctor can determine the cause and recommend treatment. 

Was this helpful?
10
Medical Reviewer: Meredith Goodwin, MD, FAAFP
Last Review Date: 2022 Oct 28
View All Men's Health Articles
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.
  1. Genital herpes — CDC basic fact sheet. (2022). https://www.cdc.gov/std/herpes/stdfact-herpes.htm
  2. Gonorrhea — CDC basic fact sheet. (2022). https://www.cdc.gov/std/gonorrhea/stdfact-gonorrhea.htm
  3. Gonorrhea treatment and care. (2022). https://www.cdc.gov/std/gonorrhea/treatment.htm
  4. Leslie, S. W., et al. (2022). Genital warts. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK441884/
  5. Litchman, G., et al. (2022). Contact dermatitis. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK459230/
  6. Male genital eczema. (n.d.). https://eczema.org/information-and-advice/types-of-eczema/male-genital-eczema/
  7. Nobles, T., et al. (2022). Intertrigo. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK531489/
  8. Pippin, M. M., et al. (2022). Tinea cruris. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK554602/
  9. Scabies frequently asked questions (FAQs). (2020). https://www.cdc.gov/parasites/scabies/gen_info/faqs.html
  10. Trichomoniasis — CDC basic fact sheet. (2022). https://www.cdc.gov/std/trichomonas/stdfact-trichomoniasis.htm
  11. Trichomoniasis. (2021). https://www.cdc.gov/std/treatment-guidelines/trichomoniasis.htm